A perfect season

Bulldog team first to start postseason without a loss

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For the Moffat County Bulldogs, it's been a perfect season.

With a 22-0 record, a No. 1 seeding going into the state 4A basketball tournament, this is a team that has made history.

Capping their run with a win Saturday against Rifle, the Bulldogs became the first girls basketball team in Moffat County High School history to go undefeated in the regular season.

Now, they're are the favorites in the state 4A tournament, which begins Friday.

How does it feel to be undefeated and ranked No. 1?

"It feels great," senior Jessica Uecker said. "We worked hard for it. We've got a bunch of athletic girls on this team."

Coach Craig Mortensen shares the feeling.

"We're excited to end the regular season with a perfect record," he said.

But, he added, "We need five more games to go all the way."

The Bulldogs made certain there was no letdown at the end, finishing the regular season Saturday in Rifle with a 62-46 win.

Mortensen liked what he saw.

"We played a pretty balanced game," he said. "Everybody contributed."

He noted the play of Mari Katherine Raftopoulos, who was returning after a two-week illness.

She had 10 assists against Rifle and eight against Glenwood on Friday.

With their undefeated season locked up, the girls get a bye Friday night, when tournament play begins.

They'll be the host team of the subregionals played here. Palisade (13-10) will play Conifer (12-10) in the opener Friday in the Moffat County High School gymnasium.

Also on Friday night, Steam--boat Springs (7-14) plays Summit (16-7) at MCHS. The winner takes on Montrose (15-7) on Saturday evening.

On Saturday, Moffat County will play the winner of the Palisade-Conifer game.

The next round of playoffs will be the regional tournament hosted by Mesa State in Grand Junction.

Looking ahead to the tournament, Uecker said, "We look at this as going into our second season."

"I think we'll be fine," she said. "We just need to get through the first round. It'll be real challenge."

But from now on, every game is potentially the last.

"It's 'lose a game and you're out' from here on," Mortensen said.

The Moffat County boys team also is headed for the state tournament.

After a loss Saturday against Rifle, they'll open tournament play in subregionals Friday in Denver against Fountain-Fort Carson.

The loss against Rifle added up to an 11-11 season, leaving coach Scott Parker disappointed. "That's not how we wanted to finish out the season," he said.

"When we got a good offense going, we would lose it on defense," Parker said. "We couldn't capitalize when we would get a steal and run it down the floor. We're a Jekyll-and-Hyde team."

As for the playoffs, Parker said the key is consistent play.

"We need to focus on what we can control. The Fountain-Fort Carson stats show they take a lot of 3-pointers. They also make a lot."

Parker said three keys to winning next weekend are guarding the ball, blocking out the opponents and quick transition.

The winner of that game will go on to face Centaurus (17-6) on Saturday evening.

One Bulldog fan who is looking forward to the start of the tournament is former head coach and current Moffat High athletic director Jim Loughran.

Loughran can appreciate the accomplishments of the girls basketball team this year.

He recalls that back in 1992 and '93, his teams had 20-plus wins -- but never a perfect season.

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